Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Lessons Left Unlearned

So, never forget to ask everyone for reports on the fun they had for the blog when you’re in charge of compiling it.  Otherwise you learn the lesson that no-one will contribute, except Super Pauly Dawsey of course, and he’ll have two on your desktop by 7.30 the following morning no less!  Anyway, this week’s crowd was Andy, Noel, Paul, Neil, Jen, Philip, Dan II, Tom, Tom II, James and James III, wow, two newbies who popped up to gauge the weirdness and who were talked into joining late on for a couple of games no less; welcome fellows!

The games that got played but will go unreported on were; Kingdom Builder including the Crossroads expansion, Ticket to Ride 4: Ticketer to Ride, Nederlands, Rattus Cartus and Two Rooms and a Boom! 

Sushi Go

So, earlybirds were treated to Tom’s Japanese set collection 7 Wonders style food game.  Slipping the sushi down were Tom, Paul, Jen and Neil.

You receive 8 cards featuring different sushi delicacies.  You keep one and pass the rest on… then play your card and repeat.  The different sushis up for collection score in every variety of collecting styley imaginable.  After three rounds the winner eats the cards.

A good game this in fact.  You think you know what you’re doing but have you just handed your neighbour that perfect card – as I did twice for Jen to get a whopping 3 card set worth 10 points each time.  I didn’t quite feed her enough though, Paul scraping through despite losing 6 points for not getting involved in collecting Sushi puddings… guess you had the most of those, you’ll never get it of course!

Final Scores; Paul – 45, Jen – 44, Neil – 40, Tom – 32.

Trains (thanks Paul!)

The starting player in trains is the one that last travelled by train. Non virtual and none cube based train, that is. When he read this from the rules Andy and Noel gave Paul a look like it didn't matter how recently Paul had done it, it was going to be him.

Andy selected the Tokyo map, and Paul placed his initial rail cube way out to the east, giving him access to plenty of mid-sized cities and some good points on the far flung hexes. Andy went south west and Noel went North West, which meant that whilst they were all starting in different sections of the board, Andy and Noel were closer to each other than Paul who was off on his own.

Andy's tactic seemed to be to collect as many station master's as possible (allowing an instant draw of two additional cards), whilst Noel concentrated on expansion by snaking from the north to the south in no time, making some of Andy's rail expansions more expensive. Paul quite enjoyed the fact that he was on his own until right at the end of the game when Noel decided to pop over and say hello as he'd built just about everywhere he could in the west.

Noel seemed to pick up a lot of waste but got rid of it cleverly using the freight trains. Paul's initial waste was not great, so he ignored it and towards the end of the game his deck was quite seriously diluted. Andy benefitted from his multiple station master cards and was the only player to build any skyscrapers as he was the only one with the cash to do it.

The game was brought to a close as the final station was played by Paul, knowing that he hadn't won, but hoping to limit the damages from what they might have been. It turns out that Noel's super expansion strategy was on the money, whilst Paul being on his own was actually a drawback as he had to construct everything himself, instead of piggy backing off anyone else.

Final Scores; Noel - 51, Andy - 47, Paul – 42.

Caverna, the Cave Farmers

So, the first outing for Uwe Rosenberg’s revamp of Agricola, comparisons are inevitable.  Firstly, I have to say the box is one chunky beast of heavy gaming cardboard, wooden resources, acrylic rockage and a rather well written set of rules, plus the compulsory appendix.  I’d had everything out of the box a couple of times and read through the rules but not actually gone as far as to playtest any of it.  Probably would have been useful, to me at least!

Philip was keen to play as we’d tried to play it in Essen but all Caverna tables were very busy.  We were joined by Dan II, who wasn’t best pleased with rulebook’s version of the plural of Dwarf being ‘Dwarfs’, I mean it’s a fictional thing in the first place, who gives a monkey’s uncle about that.  Our game was built up to four by Jen, who was not chuffed that she couldn’t turn the sheepdogs into food: I’m assuming that what’s ok in Korea is fine in Yorkshire too.

Set up took a wee while.  There are a lot of tiles for deforestation and making the most out of your cavernous mountain.  There are a lot of resources; sheep, cows, pigs, donkeys, dogs, stone, wood, ore, rubies to say nothing about the food and gold.  Then there are the weapons; the biggest new feature.  Your farmers are in fact dwarfs (not dwarves), and they can be given weapons (although these should have been called tools to be honest), and then go on adventures.  As in real life, the bigger your weapon the more you can adventure, or in the game’s terms the more you can gain additional resources/actions/stuff. 

Game play is pretty straight forward for anyone with any sort of knowledge of Agricola, or even Agricola All Creatures Big & Small.  Place your dwarf, do the action, enhance your cave/farm to build up resources converting these any number of times into eventual victory points.  Harvests aren’t quite as regular and feeding your army/duo of dwarfs is rarely difficult such are the alternatives you can feed them with, just about anything you have, except for dogs of course Jen.

So, twelve rounds, off we went.  As start player I took early ore as I was keen to tool up and go on expeditions/adventures.  Philip got into hoarding resources whilst Dan looked at making his caverns beautiful.  Jen delved into the forest side of the farm creating fields for wheat and veg, and pastures.  With my dwarf being ready to adventure in the third round I gained some freebie resources and got a useful leg up. 

Philip decided that he liked the look of that and so began converting his resources appropriately.  Jen also decided she wanted a dwarf with a weapon and despite the rulebook telling us that we needed to be careful if one player went adventuring on his own, he would be likely to win, and that the converse would also hold true.  Dan listened well and stuck to tunnelling, furnishing, dog gaining strategy.  His combined caverns of the carpenter and stone mason were particularly powerful together as all builds became one wood and one stone cheaper.

Despite this the rest of us continued to send out dwarfs on expeditions with me also concentrating on animal husbandry and Philip turning into a ruby collector.  Game play didn’t feel too slow to say that we were all new, and it didn’t quite feel as though the rounds were as limiting as in Agricola.  The sense of achievement was greater, certainly for me.  By the time final scoring came around I think we all felt that Philip with his cache of rubies would be victorious, with maybe my animals taking me into second.  As the festive spirit puts it, ‘ho, ho, ho’ were we wrong!  Dan’s collection of muts, together with his veg, gold and furnished rooms took him way out in front and to an impressive victory.  I’m sure he’d be the first to admit that he was quite surprised by this.  There’s no way he’s getting both the carpenter and stone mason again though I can tell you.

Final Scores;  Dan II – 101, Philip – 86, Neil – 78, Jen – 59. 

Machi Koro (cheers again Paul)

Andy was on his way home, gleefully claiming that he'd get extra brownie points from Mrs Andy for not staying out all night, when Noel and Paul put Machi Koro on the table, whereupon he saw it, said 'oh... I like that...' and promptly sat back down.

Paul, the Machi Koro newbie took just a few seconds to get up to speed on the delightfully simple rules, although it took him a few turns to work out that his first move was actually not such a wise one. In his first turn he'd paid four for one of his victory cards to allow him to roll two dice, after all rolling two dice is better than one in games, right??? Well, not always, and not really at the start of this game, so he used his resources on an unnecessary card while Andy and Noel bought the cheaper resource cards, meaning that they were a few steps ahead.

Andy got loads of forests. Noel loads of mines. Cheese factories, which apparently came up lots before due to the high probability of a seven being rolled didn’t turn out to be the winning strategy, which means that there clearly isn't just one way to win - and that is a good thing.

Noel generated enough cash to be able to know he'd won a couple of turns out which out too much that Andy and Paul could do about it, as they didn’t have the right 'business' cards to peg him back.

Final Scores; Noel - won, Andy and Paul - Not so

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Weedling, what a fantastic word!

So I couldn’t make it… Mrs Hora stole the car, put me on babysitting duty.  Ha, still managed to get in two games of The Three Little Pigs and an introduction to Trains too – the proper AEG version of course, no the tatty Japanese one.  


Anyway, in my absence I see that Philip, Jon, Dan, Tom, Dan II, Scott, Charlotte, and James attended the London Apprentice.  From submitted reports I see that all got to play apart from James.  Why pick on him?  What’s he ever done wrong?  1. buys too many Japanese games 2. buys too many games with sixteen cards or less 3. buys too many Japanese games with less than seventeen cards 4. doesn’t follow football 5. buys the card ‘Niall Horabain’ and uses it savagely.  How's that for starters? Snowdonia, Two Rooms and A BOOM!
For Sale, Machi Koro, got played, presumably by James, possibly on his own, good choice!!

Ed.  James found some time to fill in some gaps here, thanks James!!

Wasn't able to play Machi Koro as too many first timers were queuing up to play this small Japanese game....

...and speaking of football, did you catch the score on Sat...

We (Noel, Jen and myself) had a good game of Snowdonia, but didn't get around to a report, I think I won but we weren't really counting...

For Sale was a gap game while we were waiting for Spyrium to finish..,. what was missing from the report was that 3 games started at the same time, a euro-filler in Syprium and 2 heavier games, Snowdonia and Russian Railroads... guess which 2 games finished first ??!!? No points for guessing who was involved in the Spyrium marathon... whistle

Anyhow For Sale was probably won by Scott... that's usually how these things go. I suspect my slightly increased game-win ratio started probably around the same time that Scott dropped off visiting us so frequently... which makes for an interesting dilemma for me when it comes to encouraging him back !

Spyrium (thank Jon – whoops, missed the ‘s’ of thanks)

Tom, Jon, Dan and Natasha took a spin with this latest release from Ystari. Jon instantly demonstrated his levels of concentration and observation by remarking that he thought that all Ystari games had a ‘Y’ and an ‘S’ in their titles, but this one didn’t have an ‘S’. Hmmmmmm...

The game is played over 6 rounds, and players are placing workers to purchase cards which allow them to mine Spyrium (some sort of green crystals), convert them to points, and many other rule-breaking abilities. It has a novel mechanism whereby the 9 cards up for sale are laid out in a 3x3 grid with enough space between them to place workers between 2 cards. Players can retrieve a worker and purchase a card that they have placed next to at any point, paying the face value plus 1 for every other worker surrounding that card. However, once you have started to purchase cards, you can no longer place more workers, so do you buy that card that you really want, but waste 1 or 2 workers, or place all your workers and hope that no-one buys it before you get the chance.

There are a limited number of special ability / end game scoring cards, and it’s pretty essential to pick up at least one of these. Jon didn’t appreciate their scarcity, and failed to pick up any of them (not that he grumbled much about it of course...)

Dan picked up a fantastic combo that enabled him to mine Spyrium without workers, and churn it into points each round. Added to an ability that let him repeat any action each round, he had a good thing going there. Tom had a nice money-earning ability (+2 each time money was collected) whilst Natasha appeared to be picking up cards galore for some big end-game scoring. Jon however, plodded on with some basic Spyrium mining / churning, and tried to save as many pennies as possible for the one-off ‘big points’ cards that Tom had promised would turn up in the last round.

And so the last round occurred, and Jon indeed paid well over the odds for the largest points card available. Natasha mulled over his choices and Dan & Tom maximised their point-scoring abilities.

The dust settled and the points were actually very close, with Jon’s non-strategy managing to just overtake Tom at the last minute (for 3rd place!) And despite Dan having a phenomenal little Syrium-churning engine, Natasha had maxed out his mines and just pipped Dan for the victory.

Despite playing a bit over-long for what it was, this was a nice worker-placement game with a few interesting twists. Definitely worth a re-run to get the game-time down a bit.

Final Scores; Natasha (Dan II) – 83, Dan – 81, Jon – 71, Tom - 69

Russian Railroads (thanks Philip!) 

This was my 5th game of Russian Railroads and Scott and Charlotte’s first.

The engineers available included the take another single worker action man in position 4 and the double industry move in position 6. Otherwise they were all rail moves. Going 3rd I picked up a Coin and Charlotte a black rail move. Scott opened by taking both workers. I took 2 coins and later bought the first engineer (move any rail and score 3 VPs).

Both my opponents focused on the Kiev line and its bonus VPs initially, with Charlotte also advancing her industry strongly. Charlotte bought the second engineer (black rail+3Vps) and Scott the third (grey rail+5 Vps).

On the second turn I triggered the first St.Petersburg bonus, took the bonus Engineer card (and the 7VPs per bonus space scoring card) and spent all my remaining coins and workers triggering the extra worker on the Vladivostok track. Meanwhile Scott took the No.9 Locomotive, placing it on St.Petersburg, and Charlotte took the Black Worker.

Charlotte and Scott’s next bonus was the Kiev Medal and they were soon scoring it. Meanwhile I took the 5 industry move bonus which I needed to keep up with them. I also bought the take another single worker action engineer, giving me considerable flexibility. By using the double industry move engineer I was able to trigger my industry bonus and also take the Kiev Medal, a turn later than the others.

Scott bought both 5th and 6th Engineers and looked to be good for the 40 points since the 5th Engineer was the number 13. Meanwhile with the help of two number 7 factories I motored my way to the 4th bonus spot in round 5- taking Revaluation. In round 6 I picked up a number 9 factory, allowing me to take the extra engineer end bonus card and reach the end of the industry line. I also managed to reach the end of the Vladivostok line and get in the 2 white rail moves (having moved my natural rail using my two “move any rails” engineers).

Charlotte and Scott had also maxed their industry and were scoring 10 points more than me on their Kiev lines. Charlotte had managed to reach the “doubling” spot on the St.Petersburg line, but it was still only 16 points a turn. Neither fully developed their Vladivostok line- Charlotte didn't get beyond the second space with her black rail, Scott had a reasonable stretch of brown track. Both scored about 20 points on bonus cards and Scott had 20 more for 2nd most Engineer, but my victory was pretty clear even before scoring 68 points at the end of the game.

Final Scores; Philip – 365, Scott – 322, Charlotte - 312.

Mayday! Mayday! (thanks again Jon!)

It was the end of the evening, and time for another social deduction game - this time, one of the games that Jon brought back from Essen. This is quite similar to the Resistance, although with a bit more information available (or maybe the illusion of more information available...)

With 5 players there are 2 Infiltrators and 3 honest crew members. The goal of the game is to get all the honest crew members into the cockpit and fly the plane to safety. However, if any of the infiltrators weedle their way in, then the flight is doomed.

As it turned out Jon (no surprises there) and Tom were the infiltrators and were sitting next to each other . The basic deduction mechanism is that each player has 3 face-down cards in front of him - the good guys have 2 ‘good’ and 1 ‘bad’, whilst the infiltrators have 2 ‘bad’ and 1 ‘good’ card. At the start of the game, each player looks at the outside card of his 2 neighbours, and then places a token to indicate what he has supposedly seen. The fun then begins...
Jon had instantly been tagged by 2 ‘bad’ tokens by James and Tom, and therefore this meant that one or more of James, Jon and Tom had to be an infiltrator. James was convinced that it was Jon (of course), and Jon realised that his best bet was probably to try to take the heat and deflect it off Tom as much as possible. The fact that Tom had tagged Jon as an infiltrator was a good start in that direction.

Each round, someone gets to look at one card of another player, and then everyone votes on whether that player is trustworthy or not. At the end of the first round, 3 players will have ‘the benefit of the doubt’, and in the next round players must decide which 2 of these are ‘reliable’. Then, these 2 are whittled down to a single person who becomes the captain. He then chooses a second crew member, who then chooses the third and final member who will get cockpit access.

Natasha (Dan) and James had been selected as the reliable crew members, with James eventually becoming captain. The evidence was good that Dan was also a good guy, and was James’ pick to join him. 2 down, one to go. It was now down to Dan to decide whether Philip or Tom was the final honest crew member (Jon had long ago given up trying to prove his ‘innocence’...)

For some reason, Dan had been convinced all along that if Jon was an infiltrator, then so was Philip, and in the final discussion, James backed him up on this. Therefore Tom was selected, and the last noises that were heard were those of Philip dissolving into cries of disbelief, and Tom & Jon high-fiving...

This was a great end to the evening, with lots of laughs and heated debates. Say it quietly, but I think that I might even like this game a bit better than the Resistance actually...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

One in six, plus, one in five, equals CABOOMMMMMmmmmm!!!

An interesting amalgam of folk with James back in town with a fistful of Yen-produced games.  We were joined once more by Jen our Leeds lass who turns out to live nearer to Bradford in fact, as well as Dan II [Natasha], Tom, Jon, Noel, Philip, Dan, Andy, and me, Neil, with star guest of the evening John Bandettini no less, hurrah!.

Cheaty Mages  (thanks Jon)

The evening started with 5 of the IBG’ers having another go at this Japanese game (aren’t they all Japanese nowadays???) [EDIT: yes they are, the other five of us, James, Neil, Jen, Dan II, and Philip tried ‘Say Bye to the Villains’ but co-operatively LOST, nuff said!] Players bet on which of 5 characters will win the battle, and then take turns to play spells which affect each character’s chances of winning.

Jon and Noel shared the winnings in the first round, which saw Dan using up most of his cards to no avail. Jon also took some spoils in the second round, with Andy and Tom also joining in the fun. The final round was characterised by the judge disallowing direct (face-down) spells. As this was all that Dan held, his chances of adding to his zero total score were not great….

With most of the spells played face down, there was an air of uncertainty about what exactly was happening. It looked as if Jon, Noel and Andy were trying to boost different characters, and with a final card Noel moved a face-down card from ‘Andy’s’ character to his own. It turned down that both of them had placed a ‘double-winnings’ spell on their characters, but Noel had managed to swap a massive 8-power card from Andy to his own, to steal the win.

This is a fun and quick little game that reminds me of Colossal Arena, but plays in a very palatable 25 mins. Nice stuff!

Railways of England and Wales  (Cheers Jon)

Another Wednesday evening, another outing for this ever-popular train game – this time on the England & Wales map. Jen was the newbie, but proved to be a quick learner, despite playing against veterans Jon & Noel.

The first auction went to $11k for the start player, with Jon finally giving way to Noel. Imagine how pleased Jon subsequently was when he realised that Noel was picking a completely different starting location anyway. Noel started around Manchester for some easy early deliveries. Jon picked the unusual starting location of Devon, due to the available service bounty for the first cube delivered to Barnstable. Jen went back to her roots and set up camp in the North-East – a little too close to Noel for his liking though…..

Noel obviously delivered the first cube for the 1-point bonus, whilst Jon benefitted from his service bounty. Jen attempted to be the first to deliver 4 different-coloured cubes, but failed to bid high enough to be start player in the 3rd round, ceding that bonus to Noel.

Jon had used his early cash influx to upgrade his engine a couple of times and eventually took the 3-link delivery bonus. His strategy was fairly obvious from the off – connect Dover to Plymouth for a major-route bonus and then build up a big enough engine to make use of the spread-out cubes in the South of England. Noel and Jen built parallel routes North-South, with Jen ending up in London, and Noel in South Wales.

Jon had leapt into a healthy lead and was looking to empty enough cities to end the game, but Jen and Noel decided to work together to throw a spanner in the works for him. As Noel stated to Jen “I think we’re in the same boat here”, to which Jon replied “Yes – but there’s only really room in that boat for one!”

Nevertheless, their concerted efforts to keep adding cubes to the board succeeded in extending the game by about 3 rounds, and with Jon’s cubes starting to run out in the South, the scores were getting closer. However, he had kept enough stocks tucked away in Dover to ensure that when the game end was finally triggered, he had enough of a buffer to still win fairly comfortably.

The contest for second place was much closer, with Jen just failing to overhaul Noel’s score. Amazingly, the players had only accumulated 6 bonds between them by the end (Noel 3, Jon 2, Jen 1) and were all flush with cash in the final few rounds. This had been another fun game, and good to see that the Cornwall-Kent network can be a viable strategy in the right circumstances. Next up – Neil’s Canada map…???

Russian Railroads  (cheers Philip!)

This was my 4th game of Russian Railroads, Natasha's second, and Andy’s first. Previous games had been 4 player.

The engineers available included the 3VPs +x2 lady in position 3 and the take another single worker action man in position 5. Otherwise they were all rail moves. Going 3rd I picked up a X2 marker and Andy a black rail move. Natasha opened by taking both coins.

I focused on the trans-Siberian railroad, making use of and eventually buying the doubler+3 VPs engineer. I was able to get my extra worker from that track by turn 2. Meanwhile Natasha pushed ahead on industry, building four factories in the first couple of turns, although he hadn’t realised that the level 3 factory only allows single worker actions.

Andy was first out of the door with a bonus from the St.Petersburg, taking the level 9 locomotive. I had planned to do that but instead moved 5 industry spaces, allowing me to take another train. Natasha got his second industry marker into play.

Both Andy and Natasha took the Kiev Medal for their second bonus and soon had the Kiev line scoring a good 45 points a turn. For my second bonus I took the factory+2 industry move card, which allowed me to reach my third bonus (Revaluation).

Andy bought the 4th engineer and Natasha the 5th, putting us all on one engineer with Andy the highest numbered and me the lowest. Natasha had been hoarding coins and Andy had a few but I had none going into the last round having spent my last coin on the 2 rails of any type action to reach Vladivostok and push to the third space with my White rail. At some point Natasha had taken the bonus card which gives you 3 things and then a choice of one of those three things- predictably choosing industry.

Natasha’s fifth factory was a level 9 and he succeeded in pushing both markers over it, so he had accumulated 3 final scoring cards. Nevertheless I was very comfortably in the lead. On Andy’s turn I pointed out that buying the last engineer was worth 20 points to Natasha and to him (in his case as a denial move). Andy nobly refused to take the last engineer and Natasha bought it. I concentrated on getting my white rail up to 5.

After end of turn scoring I was leading Natasha by about 65 points. Then we did end of game scoring- Natasha scored 101 points in end of game with most engineers, the bonus cards for factories, workers and bonuses, and I scored 20 for 4+ x2 markers. Andy scored 40 for 2nd most engineers and some bonus card.

Final Scores; Natasha - 385,  Philip - 370, Andy - 318.


CV’s second outing at the IBG saw me introducing Tom and Dan to the game and James showing them how to play it.  Tom picked up well on his life tasks, filling his boots with Knowledge and Relationships.  I managed to throw consecutive bad luck to lose two of my cards, Dan tried following this strategy but did have some life insurance to help him out once.  My misfortune eventually gave me a free card through Social Assistance.

James was picking up bits and pieces although where he was focusing was anyone’s guess.  He scored well on Health, something to do with only eating jacket potatoes with sour cream apparently. Tom scored very nicely on the life goals but it was amongst the money cards that the winner was to be found.  Dan had decided to concentrate on picking up assets, only for James to pip him to it in the last couple of rounds, thus hitting a useful life goal too.  Blimey, James won another game!

Final Scores; James – 52, Tom – 49, Dan – 39, Neil – 33 (nowhere near the lowest score in a 4 player game to date [28], hurrah!)

Blueprints (thanks James!)

Another 'filler' from Essen, although there's more to this game than most fillers... players draft dice to add, layer by layer, to a blueprint... at the end of each round (6 dice each) buildings are scored and various awarded allocated based on the dice selected and structure of the tower. For a simple concept (once you've memorised the 4 different dice colours and their respective scoring) there's a lot of thinking going on... Not enough to drag out a game, but enough to make each move meaningful.

This was a first for everyone with Neil, Tom and myself able to entice John B to join us for a full house.

After realising at the end of round one that you weren't scoring cumulative points for each building, but were only keeping the awards given out the game made more sense and everyone knew what they were doing from hereforth (well can't speak for Neil or Tom here but they always disguise their confusion well...)

John managed to build his 2nd tower out of all orange dice which pretty much swept the awards for that round, while also scuppering my chance of winning anything (grumble, grumble).

I tried a strategy of ignoring the blueprint and building a tall tower for round 4... which probably has potential as a strategy if carried out by someone clever than me... however in this case it was more Leaning Tower of Pisa than Empire States Building...

At the end (I don't have the scores) John managed to win quite convincingly (nothing new there) while the rest of us looked like we've just finished an unsuccessful game of Jenga.

Everyone seemed to like it though, only about 30 minutes to play, but a nice enough mix of randomness from the dice with enough tactical decisions to keep you interested.

Final Scores; John - 10, James - 6, Tom - 5, Neil – 3.


Not another Japanese game surely?  And only sixteen cards, who’d have thought it?  I can hear the yells now;

“So, what’s the theme then Neil??”



“Really.  Even the box comes with the exclamation: ‘Acorns rolling down’.  I mean who wouldn’t be keen to pick up a game thus described.”

Anyway, forget that bit.  Let’s have a look at the cards, all sixteen of them.  There are ten of them featuring the simplest possible drawing of… oh yes, an acorn.  They are numbered from 1 – 5.  Then there are four ponds, worth -1 or -2, and finally two loaches, which switch –ves to +ves!  Acorns, ponds and loaches.  You HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

With Tom, John and I still in shock James set out a row of four cards face up.  On your turn you add a card to one column.  It can be placed face down for the cost of one coin, or face up and you receive a coin from the bank.  If, on your turn, you think one of the column is worth the magic number, six, then you can take the column.  All cards are revealed and points won, or lost depending on the total. If it is six the round is over.  The first to 20 coins wins.


So, round one.  James starts and adds a face down card to a 2-acorn card.  John decides to gamble and picks the cards up, turning over James’s 4-acorn… “DONBURIKO!!” rings out.  Round over.  It doesn’t get quicker than that!

Things go a little longer in the following rounds, not much longer to be honest but we each get to lay a card at least!  Aha, I win the next round, and do well in the following one too.  Maybe it is down to skill after all… let me believe this for just a moment more…

And there we are, one more round and the bank will be empty, and I take that one too, and win the whole thing.  I do believe James will trade this one on.  I won’t be offering to buy it!  In fact the following day he got £25 for it.  RESULT!!

Final Scores; Neil – 21, John – 19, James – 7, Tom – 1

Two Rooms and a Boom!

Ok, who’s the President, who’s the bomber?  That’s all you have to work out.  Once sorted then keep them apart and the goodies win, stick ‘em together and the baddies have it.

New to all six of us; Jon, Noel, James, Jen, Tom, Neil.  Obviously you can’t trust Jon or Noel so this is perhaps trickier than it should be.

First round six cards dealt, three blue including the President, and three red including the Bomber.  We split into threes and had three minutes to discuss who was who, elect a leader for the three and they chose to move one person on.  All six said they were blue goodies although no-one wanted to admit to being the President!  Second round, another three minutes of discussions and another person shuffles around from each ‘room’.  One final minute of discussions and then the cards are revealed.  Turned out Jen, Tom and I who started together were all baddies, Jen being the Bomber, and we managed to get her over to the blues to blow that President sky high! HURRAH!!

Again, again… we all cried!

Ok.  This time there were three blues and three red at the start… Being the Bomber I decided to play red but not own up to my power.  I moved Jen on to find out about the others but we were none the wiser for the second round.  So, time for me to move over to check them out.  The President remained where he was so BOOM, another red victory… the power, the elation, the tension!

Again, again, again…

Take three.  So this time it was different.  Except that I was the bomber once more.  I decided to play red but not own up entirely.  It turned out that all the reds were with me for the first discussion, but where was that blasted President?

Second discussion and for once I believed Tom so decided to send him off in the hope of getting the President back, but instead they sent Jen back, already a red.  Unfortunately for the President he’d been sent over after discussion one, there he was, sat comfortably, beside the Bomber… CABOOM!!  Three out of three for the Reds, Cold War history rewritten perfectly.

Great game, and probably even better with more.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Shh! You’ll wake him up!

So, with Essen still to the fore there were only a few intrepids this week.  With James being away the normal hoards decided to take a break too, the influence of the man is incredible!  So tonight’s star turns were Jon, Dan, Dan II (hereafter Natasha), Amanda, Paul, Philip, and me! And maybe an all-time low on games played as two meaty games, and one less-so, were played.  First, off to Russia…

Russian Railroads (thanks Philip!)

This was my third game of Russian Railroads, Neil's second, and Amanda and Natasha's first. The engineers available included two that advanced industry, one with +3 VPs and one with a black rail move, but were otherwise all rail moves. Natasha was first to pick compensation, choosing a rouble. I picked an industry advance and Amanda picked a rail advance. Neil, going first, took the two bonus workers, a choice he preferred throughout the game. Amanda placed three workers and took a train and a factory. I advanced my industry for +3 VPs, and Natasha bought the engineer (blackrail move+3 VPs).

By the end of the first turn I had pushed up to 5 VPs on the industry scale and had a factory ready in front of me. The others were pursuing rails in various directions. Natasha bought the second Engineer (anyrail move+3 VPs). I pushed on down the industry track, using the Industry+black rail engineer that had now appeared. Someone took the Industry+3VPs space, but I was still able to advance Industry two spaces onto my newest factory, which allowed me to repeat the Industry+black rail action and, with my remaining moves, generate the extra worker from the Kiev railroad.

By turn three the level four trains were becoming available and I built one as a factory, enabling me to take two ‘doublers’ and reach the bonus space on the Industry Track: I took the extra Worker card and the card that gives 1 point per Black rail space. No one bought the engineer this round, (industry+3 VPs). Neil and Amanda picked up their extra Kiev workers while Natasha forged ahead on the Vladivostok railroad. Amanda activated the first bonus on the St.Petersburg track, taking the Kiev Medal, but her grey rails hadn’t reached the medal space yet. Neil and Amanda were also making progress along the Industry tracks, while Natasha reached the second place and remained there for the rest of the game.

In turn four I bought the blackrail+industry engineer, Dan picked up his extra Vladivostok worker, and Neil and Amanda succeeded in scoring their Kiev Medals (which Neil placed that turn). I pushed my St.Petersburg blackrail up to space six, but was unable to buy a train that turn as the others blocked me.

In turn five I bought a level six Train and took my own Kiev Medal as well as four track advancements - meaning I was able to score it from then on. I also advanced my industry up to the 20 VP point. Amanda bought the engineer - 2 blackrails - for 14 points per level 1 factory, which I think she managed to score twice during the game.

In turn six Natasha bought the Engineer (any rail +black rail) and activated his St.Petersburg bonuses, choosing Revaluation and four track advances. He managed to lay down natural track on a long stretch of the railroad - four spaces at this point and I think six by game end, but never reached the end of the line so had no white track. He was getting 10 VPs a turn from Kiev as well. Neil picked up the bonus Engineer card and what later turned out to be the 10 VPs for each end of line card, and also pushed his grey track out far enough to get double points on the St Petersburg line. I gained my final worker and advanced my Industry to the end of the line - picking up two rail moves en route.

In turn seven I bought the Engineer (Brown Rail and Grey Rail). Amanda used her 2nd St Petersburg bonus to pick the factory+2 industry card (and the combined train value bonus card), which combined with the +5 industry bonus from the industry bonus space meant she reached the end of her industry track. I had been hoarding coins and had about half a dozen left, which combined with my eight workers allowed me to reach the end of all three railway lines and make enough space on the Vladivostok line for two white rail advances.

Final Scores: Philip – 403, Neil – 346,  Amanda – 332, Natasha – 330.

Robinson Crusoe  (many thanks Jon [I whispered; don’t want to wake anyone up!])

Thanks to James's bargain-hunting skills, Jon managed to snare the only English-language version of this game at Essen, and it didn't take him long to bring it along to IBG. Dan can always be relied upon to join in with such adventure-fare, and Paul came over to become the third member of the island-exploring party.

This co-op has multiple scenarios, but the first one is all about collecting a big pile of firewood and then building a fire, before surviving at least 10 months until a ship sails into sight to provide a rescue.

There's a lot to keep an eye on in this game, and not enough time or actions to deal with every threat. Players need to collect food and wood, as well as hunting beasts, all the while exploring deeper into the island to find the natural resources required to build useful inventions. Oh, and they also need to construct a shelter, with a multi-layered roof and preferably a palisade to keep out the wild animals.

Every time the adventurers take a risk with an action (sending one worker rather than two) they risk having an adventure. And for 'adventure' read 'an event that kicks you in the teeth at least once if not twice.'

In this game, the three amigos suffered a lot of resource deprivation, with one part of the island being unlucky enough to be ravaged by a hurricane and an earthquake in successive turns. Paul was taking quite a few wounds, and was needing to use actions to heal as often as possible. A shelter was soon constructed, and it was decided to focus on building some useful items like a map / shortcut rather than worry too much about the woodpile at first. An early successful hunt of a jaguar proved to provide much food, but unfortunately some of it rotted away due to there not being a fridge anywhere in sight...

The monthly events turned out to be less awful than they might have been, and some fortuitous dice-rolling also kept the 'adventures' at bay.

And so it came to pass that by the 10th month, although the weather had become atrocious, the boys had built a sufficiently robust shelter to keep themselves alive, and were able to focus on finishing the woodpile. A ship then sailed into view, and they were rescued from the cursed island. Well - Dan and Jon were rescued - Paul set a new low for the IBG'ers by falling asleep during the game (yes really!!) and therefore was left to sleep on the shore as the others made their escape.

This is a great co-op (although a little long on its first outing) and with at least 5 more scenarios to attempt, it will likely see lots more table time (although maybe not with Paul.....)


So, a game I was interested in at Essen, the designer Filip Milunski, a Pole, had come up with Magnum Sal and Mare Balticum in the past, two games I had, the latter being popular with the Horakids.  As it happens Philip was the first of us to have a look at this game and indeed play it.  His comment was ‘a game he’d play again if someone brought it along to the club’, not bad then!  As it was James was also interested so we took him at his word and dragged him back to the stand to play it again almost immediately.  Jon joined us too.  We played, I liked, I bought, we played it twice on the ferry home although Philip’s CV on one of those was almost non-existent. 

Tonight at the IBG Philip and I were joined by Dan II / Natasha to put together amazing resumes of our lives.  Basically the game is a dice fest, always a favourite with me – hold on that’s a lie, I’m far from keen on the dice, so what’s going on here then?  I don’t know it just seems to have the light feel of a dice game which you can tweak a little and still enjoy.  The dice allow you to buy cards, which make up your CV.  There’s some set collection involved,  and a life goal or two to head towards to.

Dan started off on his bike and was soon putting together the hippiest of hippy CVs; he studied at the “University of the Third Age”, made lots of “College Friends”, did the “trip Around the World”, “Inherited a House” and undertook some “Volunteer Work”!  Philip struggled in the Health, Relationship and particularly Knowledge, so concentrated on working his way through every job possible, spending his hard earned cash on various assets.  I was playing my Knowledge card and also invested well.  The last round saw me finally make use of the pension fund I’d taken early on and score a useful 15 points.  Unfortunately Dan had done even better on the life goals and took victory by a good margin.
Final Scores; Dan II – 65, Neil – 60, Philip – 49.